University News

Armed robbery continues uptick in campus violence

The suspects, charged with first-degree robbery, could face maximum sentences of life in prison

Senior Staff Writer
Monday, September 9, 2013

Two masked men robbed four students early Saturday morning near the intersection of Cooke and Benevolent streets, the Department of Public Safety announced in a community-wide email Saturday. Earlier the same night, the suspects allegedly stole a laptop from a student’s house.

The crimes mark the first robberies of the semester and the fifth since the beginning of the summer.

At approximately 1:30 a.m. Saturday, the two suspects left a green Honda Element­ — in which two accomplices were waiting — and approached the walking students, said Paul Shanley, deputy chief of police for DPS. One of the suspects allegedly threatened the students with what appeared to be a handgun and demanded their cellphones and money, Shanley said. After the students complied with their requests, the suspects fled the scene in the waiting vehicle. The four students called DPS immediately after the crime, Shanley added.

“The students were practicing good awareness that they walked in a group,” Shanley said. “So I commend them for that and the fact that they did the right thing, contacting the police.”

Around 3 a.m., a University-contracted security officer, who was off-duty at the time but had just been informed of the crime, saw a vehicle matching the Honda’s description in the Douglas Avenue area of Providence, Shanley said. The officer alerted the Providence Police Department, which was able to follow and arrest the suspects.

Kaelon Pittman, 18, and three other suspects were arrested in connection with the crime and have been charged with first-degree robbery, which is a felony and in Rhode Island carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Pittman will be tried in the Sixth Division District Court in Providence but will most likely be moved to Superior Court, Shanley said. The three other suspects — who are minors and whose names are not being released — will be tried in the family court system, he added.

A laptop belonging to Becca Wolinsky ’14 was found in the suspects’ vehicle. Wolinsky said she had “some friends over” Friday night at her house on Ives Street, where the suspects allegedly took her laptop before robbing the other students later that night. Providence police officers recovered the laptop after the suspects’ arrest.

Because of the “level of violence” that has occurred on campus in recent months, DPS has increased patrol units and manpower, The Herald reported last week. Despite the increased security, Shanley said this particular incident was difficult to prevent because it was “on the fringe of our campus.”

“We’re still right now going to continue our additional resources out on the street in an effort to deter this from happening again,” he said.

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  1. Shanley covers his ass. So what’s new?

  2. The campus needs to take a MUCH stronger approach to making sure students, faculty, and staff are safe and the excuses we hear are simply unacceptable. Perhaps if my next comment is to put these article links on collegconfidential so that there is more widespread knowledge of the unsafe conditions at Brown, the University would make some greater effort to deal with this problem. For God’s sake, an engineering student was STABBED a few weeks ago in front of the President’s house. Where is the outrage?

    • They should fire the entire Brown public safety department, and invite the Providence Police in instead.

      But, that will never happen. There is a long list of reasons, but they come down to one thing: Brown University is an organized criminal ring.

      • Lawl at the thought of hiring the Providence Policy Department over Brown. Have you ever dealt with either force in a meaningful capacity? I’ve been robbed three times at this school, looked through multiple lineups, and dealt with detectives and officers from Brown and PVD. In every case, The Brown University Police were more competent than the Providence Police Department.

    • Police departments by their nature are largely reactionary forces- especially municipal agencies. College and university forces have a smaller area to cover and can therefore usually be somewhat more preventative, but they still can’t be everywhere.

      Between BPD and PPD, the Brown campus and surrounding areas have more police officers in a smaller area than anywhere else in the city. Criminals being criminals, however, there will always be incidents that are not and cannot be prevented. Cooke and Benevolent isn’t exactly a heavily-traveled area. If I was going to pick a location to station police officers, that would be one of the last on my list.

      In sum: the police can’t be everywhere or prevent everything. They aren’t to blame, the criminals are. Be alert. Be aware. Travel in groups. Don’t display valuables. Use Safewalk. If accosted, be a good witness. Remember details. Call DPS immediately.

      • Concerned Student says:

        They DID travel as a group though. They did everything exactly right. We need more SafeRide on Call, with more shuttles constantly patrolling the area. What is the good of SafeWalk if groups are now getting robbed? The SafeWalkers don’t have guns.

        • SafeWalk I feel can work well because it looks a little more “official”, if you get my meaning. If I’m out to rob someone, even a group of someones, I’m not going to pick the group accompanied by someone wearing a vest and carrying a radio, because they’re clearly representing an authority. Yes they might be unarmed, but anyone in the military will tell you that a radio is the most dangerous weapon in the world.

          There’s never going to be a shuttle that drives you between campus dorms at 2am. So the question is, what other options are there?

      • I’m not sure you get my meaning: Brown University needs to do more. We don’t need a lesson in safety, we need a movement motivated by the President and supported by the University at large. Yes, sure, I can buy a gun, but I’d rather my University support a culture and community that helps keep me safe. It is not complicated. It is some kind of bizarre apathy. We should demand more from Brown.

        • I’m not sure you get the logistics of what you’re asking. More shuttles are great, but they aren’t going to be able to help students walking between buildings at 2am, I’ve already talked about the limits of what the police can do. Short of putting a fence around the campus, I’m not sure what you want.

  3. Ahh, the joys of lawful concealed carry.

  4. Ah, the joys of lawful concealed carry.

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